Famous Themes From Ads/TV



There are many musical themes that we are familiar with these days outside of their original context, as they have been used in tv commercials or films, in a striking and memorable way. For example, a famous melody from a classical piece of music is known to most people in Great Britain as The Hovis Theme. Of course Mr Hovis didn’t write it, and in fact it was written well before the actual composer would have had the chance to enjoy a slice of the aforementioned bread whilst composing his piece. And as the composer was Czech, and wrote the piece in America, the connection to England is getting really tenuous. Never mind the fact that no-one else in the world would know what you were on about if you referred to “The Hovis Theme” to, say,  a Canadian, or even tried to engage a Parisian in conversation by referring to “le thème de hovis”.

Other themes however have a more global recognition, for example the piece that is used at the start of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In fact that piece is the opening section of the rather cumbersomely titled: “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, German for “And so spoke Zarathustra”, Zarathustra being the Persian prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism. No wonder people remember it as “the piece from 2001”. It was written by Richard Strauss, not to be confused with Johann Strauss II, who wrote “The Blue Danube”, which is also featured in “2001” but much later in the film, in the bit where the spacecraft docks with the space station dock, and the twoseem to be performing some beautiful celestial waltz with each other (The Blue Danube is, rather fittingly, a waltz).

The problem of course is, if you want to buy these tracks or play the sheet music for them, it’s a bit tricky to find them if you only know them by their popular reference. So here is a little roundup of some of the most famous ones and what they are actually called and whom they are written by:


The Stella Artois Theme – was actually written for the movie Jean De Florette by Jean-Claude Petit.


The piece of music they blast ouf of the helicopters in Apocalypse Now – is actually “The Ride Of The Valkyries” from Richard Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle.


The British Airways Theme is actually a piece entitled The Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes.


The aforementioned piece that accompanies a spaceship docking with a sapcesation in the film 2001 is The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II.



The Opening theme From 2001  is actually the opening theme from Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss (no relation to Johann).


The Theme at the end of Ocean’s 11 is actually Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy.


And finally The Hovis Theme is acually the Largo movement from The New World Symphony (Symphony No. 9 in E minor) by Antonín Dvořák.


We hope you enjoyed that!


Tunes you didn't realise you knew – No3: New World Symphony/The Hovis Theme

Hi There

Welcome to the third instalment of Tunes you didn’t realise you knew. Today we will be looking at the music from the Hovis advertisement. For those of you who live outside of the UK, Hovis is a big British bread company. Yes, jolly foreigner, in the UK many people love sliced and packed bread made on an industrial scale (mind you, it ain’t my cup of tea!)

Anyway, I digress, back to the music. The music used in the ad is actually the 2nd movement (Largo) of Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178 by the Czech composer Antonín Dvo?ák. It is usually referred to as The New World Symphony.

We have the sheet music for it here.

Dvorak (Dvo?ák) was staying in the United States from 1892 to 1895, and the US was then (more than now) referred to as The New World (i.e. the world that Columbus discovered, hence “New” World). It is said that in the 2nd movement Dvorak was trying to portray the feeling of home-sickness, something which the music did so successfully that the main theme was later set to lyrics and turned into the song Going Home.

So, what important tid-bits should we know about Dvorak (pronounced D-vor-jak or D-vor-zhahk)?

Q: Was he a one-hit classical wonder?
A: No, but The New World Symphony is by far his best known.

Q: Ok, so what other stuff did he write that I may know (or should know)?
A: The Slavonic Dances and the Humoresque.

Q: What was he doing in the US for those 3 years?
A: Dvorak was the director of the National Conservatory of Music and was paid $15,000 a year – which in those days was an absolute fortune.

Q: Wow, so a classical composer who wasn’t broke?
A: Yep, there are a few, but not too many.

Q: Ok, let’s see the ad then.
A: Here it is, arranged for brass band (the setting of the ad is in Northern England, where brass bands were very popular due to large number of coal mining brass bands).

And here is the actual piece played by an orchestra:


Lincoln Jaeger